Mailman student, Taylar Peoples ('17), shows difference in Black and White attitudes toward aging

Monday, January 9, 2017

From WUNC radio coverage by Leoneda Inge about new research, headed up by David Weiss with colleagues Deirdre Robertson and Mailman School of Public Health MPH student Taylar Peoples, all from the Columbia Aging Center:

Researchers wanted to know if there is a difference between how white and black older adults perceive social status and self-esteem.

Taylar Peoples, a graduate student in the Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia, worked on the survey.

“What we found, which was very interesting, is that black older adults didn’t have a significant difference in social status across life span," said Peoples, during a poster presentation at the 2016 Gerontological Society of America (GSA) Annual Scientific Meeting in New Orleans. The project is titled, "Patterns of Age-related Attitudes Across the Life Span: Differences Amongst Racial Groups."

But Peoples said after middle age, there was a significant status drop for white older adults. Peoples said while research to explain why is ongoing, researchers have made some educated guesses.

“The white, middle-age group, which is like the most privileged group in the United States, and how becoming an older adult can also bring along age discrimination," said Peoples. "Or you are no longer working and you have a sudden drop in income or wealth and things like that and how that can be a factor in the sudden drop of social status."
Hundreds of people attend the Durham Parks and Rec annual Senior Holiday Party.
Credit Durham Parks and Recreation

Peoples said black, older adults have likely experienced discrimination all of their lives. And many, like the king of the senior holiday party, have found happiness in growing old, not working and living month to month, and spending some of their children's inheritance on themselves.